New Gardenia Help!

GrnThumFebruary 26, 2011

Hi, I have a few questions about my gardenia Jasminoides, that I purchased from an online vendor along with 2 other plants. I've had them for about 10 days so far under a grow light and they are all in Al's 511 mix.

1. The gardenia's leaves (smaller ones at the top) are kind of lighter green on the edges, splotchy-like in pigmentation. Why could this be?

2. There are white spots on the back of the leaves that are closer to the base. Could this be a fungal issue? The spots come off when I rub them.

3. There are some tiny holes that seem to form from once brown spots that have appeared on a few leaves. Is this a problem? I haven't seen any bugs on the plant.

4. It came with a yellowing big leaf at the base and so far there has been no spread of the yellowing to the entire leaf or other leaves, could this be normal?

Can anyone check these pics out and tell me if there is something wrong with my new gardenia? BTW, there is new growth emerging.

Sorry for rambling on and asking too many questions...

Thanks for looking! I wanted to make sure that this plant is in good health.

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rosco_p(z6a ont.canada)

GrnThum. Not that I have great experience with Gardenia...but I do have a couple that I have had for 10 years or so and I have experienced periods where they have the colouration that you have mentioned!. I might just think that your plant is adjusting to being repotted and to a new environment. Gardenias are rather fussy and require a slightly acidic soil and also a humid environment. I would suggest you start feeding your plant with a balanced fertilizer and try to mist it daily if possible. As far as the white spots...I know mine often get white flies during the winter do check on that being the possible cause?. Other than that you have a good looking plant there. Keep up the work and enjoy the fruits of your labour. I am sure the gritty mix will also serve it's needs well Hope this helps a bit. Ross.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 10:01PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

I've had good luck with gardenias several years ago, and those I bought this summer are still alive and thriving.

I find they are quite vigorous if I start with a good small plant from an established vendor (not a Big Box), put it in something like Miracle Gro Moisture Retention Potting Soil, in a *small clay pot*, and grow it up from there. They grow quite fast in summer in this regime, and a plant received in a 4" pot might be in an 8" pot 6 months later. But it is moved up just one size at a time, and repotted only when the roots fill the pot.

You can tell when it needs repotting because it begins to dry out from a watering very rapidly. Then just pull it out of the pot and look at the roots. If the roots are vigorous, the whole rootball, soil and all will come out in a tight ball.

About fertilizer, I would go easy on that this time of year. Fertilize when the plant is actively growing and getting lots of light outdoors. Indoors, in winter, fertilizer stimulates weak, unhealthy growth that is susceptible to pests. You can burn the roots with too much fertilizer.

Remember that light, moisture and fertilizer have to be in balance. More light, more moisture and fertilizer. Less light, *less* moisture and less fertilizer. A plant can only grow to the limit allowed by the *least* available resource. In winter, that is definitely light.

What strikes me about your gardenia is that it seems so small and twiggy for the size of the pot. A gardenia I would put in a pot that size would be 6-12 inches taller and fuller, with many branches and so many leaves you could hardly see the stems. You would not be able to see all that pot around the two stems-- just the very edge of the pot.

A too-large pot is a death sentence for gardenias, because the most frequent cause of death for them is plain old root-rot. A too-big pot stays too wet and gets wetter and wetter, because soil that is empty of roots doesn't dry out fast at all. A pot even a few inches bigger will hold a volume of soil maybe four or more times as large as the smaller pot, and this empty soil gets soggy and sour in a very short time. The too-wet soild deprives the roots of needed air and they rot away. As the roots rot, the pot becomes even more "too big" and the rot accelerates in a death spiral.

When repotting a gardenia, it pays to pot it in a clay pot, as this helps keep the soil from becoming soggy and discourages rot. I keep them in a clay pot til they reach a size where the pot is too big for me to handle. For me, this is a 12" clay pot.

Use a pot that is not more than an inch or two wider than the actual root ball, and not too deep. If the pot is too deep, soggy soil accumulates at the bottom, even if the top of the soil seems dry, and yes, this encourages rot. If the pot is too deep, use 1-2" of white foam packing peanuts at the bottom of the pot.

At all costs, avoid the reasoning that the roots "need room to grow". Yes, they do, but they will die if there is too much empty soil around them. An inch of empty soil all around the root ball is planty of room to grow.

Honestly, your grdenia looks to me as if it should be in about a 6" pot, maybe 8" if the root ball is unusually big for the top.

About the pests, you can hose them off every few days if you are in a benign climate, or spray with something like Safer's pesticide. Or, if you prefer, spray with a solution of 1 tbsp of alcohol, 1-2 tbsps of dishwashing liquid like Ivory liquid to a quart of water. The soap softens the exoskeleton of the pests, and they drown. Repeat the treatment every three days until you don't see the pests any more.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Wow! Thanks for your advise guys, I like to hear other people's success and will take it into consideration. The container I have it in is big for it, but I purposely put less mix and planted it deeper in the medium.

I used Al's mix from the container gardening forum on this site since it does not allow for water to remain in the mix and drains very rapidly. When I got this plant, it was in a very tiny container and the root ball was so compressed, that I was unable to remove all the peat moss from the root mass.

I placed it in this container in order for the roots to stretch out and expand. I figured that since the mix drains so quickly, it would be ok to use a bigger size.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 4:16PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

GrnThum. You'll have much better luck with it in a smaller pot. I couldn't emphasize this enough. Also, don't try to force growth. That will come all by itself as the light lengthens and strengthens this spring.

About the tight rootball -- I would still use a pot just one size up. Better to repot again in a couple of months than to use a pot too big now. If you have it, Superthrive in my experience does help roots get established in a new pot faster. But I don't think Superthrive will correct for a too-big pot.

Actually, with lights, you have a good setup for indoors growing.

I find a dose of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) every couple of months (1 tbsp per gallon of water or just put on the surface of the medium and watered in at watering time) helps green up and toughen the leaves. Hard water + winter here = chlorosis for gardenias and jasmines. That might help your yellow-edge leaves.

Or, use *chelated* iron. Chelated simply means in a form for plants to take up. I have used both with good effects.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 4:26PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, GrnThum. Here is a quote from the e-mail Almost Eden sends about an order. It discusses the too-big pot problem in a general way. Just remember that the problem is more severe for gardenias, which are very sensititve to root rot.

Just got this today with my spring order:

>>The best rule of thumb, is to up-pot plants to a size NO LARGER than 1 or 2
inches taller, and wider. You would not try to make a 1-year-old kid wear
size 13 man's shoes, would you? You would want a shoe size that fits, maybe
a size larger. What happens when you put a plant in a pot too-large is that
the roots grow right out to the sidewalls, and do not fill the soil as they
go, leaving a lot of soil in the center without many roots. If pot is taller
than needed, due to capillary action water stands in the low part, and can
cause the lower part to sour and hurt the roots. So you can get away with a
tall pot, IF you fill the lower part with styrofoam, or such, and shallow up
the soil. There can be exceptions! Fast-growers, like tomatoes, DO like the
large, but not too deep, pots. Plants do not mind getting some fresh soil.
When watering, remember plants should use their moisture in 3 to 4 days, or
it can sour.
Roots need oxygen, and they get that when water passes through the soil,
acting like a PUMP TO PULL FRESH AIR IN, AND OLD AIR OUT.I hope hearing this advice from another source will cause you to reconsider your pot-size decision.

BTW Almost Eden is an excellent source for jasmines and gardenias.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 4:39PM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Lighter green on the edges indicates some sort of chlorosis. If you are using tap water I would suggest adding vinegar to your water. I mixed 1 tablespoon/gal of water for mine but your rate might vary.

I agree with mehitabel about gardenia and overpotting. It's always safe to use a small pot then potting up approriately than to use a big pot no matter how fast draining your soil might be.

The white spots you mentioned, could they be perlite from your soil? If not they might be pests, I would spray a mix of rubbing alcohol/water (50:50) just in case.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 7:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Although it is a bit difficult to tell for certain what those 'white things' might be, they sure look like whitefly nymphs to me. Would it be possible for you to take a clearer image for positive ID? Gardenias and whitefly go hand in hand. IF these are whitefly nymphs (or any other kind of pests like aphids) you have every reason to place a complaint with the online vendor.

The coarser your potting mix is, the less you have to worry about the size of the container. You are right about that. I would avoid (like the plague) any moisture control potting medium. Leave the plant as is and see what happens. Just make sure that you are watering sufficiently...the entire soil volume needs to be drenched. You needn't worry about root rot in that mix, unless the pot is sitting in drainage water, something that I know you will not let happen.

And with the days getting longer, this is a very good time to fertilize...especially since you are using a very coarse textured potting mix. I'd suggest that you find a soluble product (powder or liquid) for acid loving plants. Did you add the gypsum when you created your potting mix?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:26PM
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I will see if I could take a closer pic. But so far there seems to be no pests as far as I can see. I used Lime which I put into the mix about 2 days ago, a week after putting it into Al's mix. I am using Miracid but I have ordered Foliage Pro, it should arrive today.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 1:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Um, I thought you said that the plant has 'white spots that rub off'.

For Gardenias, you probably don't want to use lime, which can raise the pH of your medium, but gypsum...which adds calcium without the pH alteration.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Oh yes, I found that it must've been some residue from the nursery because I can see no damage to the plant. It was only isolated to a couple of leaves on the base of the gardenia.

The reason I limed was because the lime would provide Calcium and Magnesium. Even though the ph of the soil would rise, I will add vinegar with each watering and fertilization.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:47PM
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Hi Sam:-)

I had a feeling that is what it was when we last talked. That is what I see on any gardenia I buy, residue from pestisides...If it just wiped off, fantastic.
Wash all the leaves nice a clean with water.

As for pot size:

Many are right about watching pot size when growing in mixes that breakdown rapidly like bagged mixes, or anything you use with a majority of the ingredients being very fine particles such as peat.
This type of mix restricts you in many ways. A couple being that that kind of mix can take too long to dry out and accumilite salts in which you have to fluch at regular intervals.
Many more disadvantages can be found and explained at the container forums, which I think you are starting to grasp.

Good choise in mix, being the gritty that is;-) Once you get use to how it works and why it is your best choise, you can grow a 2 inch plant in a 2 gallon container or higher if you wish!

Again, your gritty mix affords you the opportunity to grow any small plant in any size container you choose without fear of 'root rot', 'stunted slow growth', and gives the plant a chance at growing bigger rapidly while it thrives.

One thing that no one has mentioned though, or at least I did not see, is that the 'salts' that can accumilate from fertilizers and or faucet water in thick soil mixes are deadly to gardenias..They are intolarable to these salts which will cause a slow to rapid decline in vigour of these beautiful plants by building to the point of toxity to fine roots.

Someone mentioned vinegar? GREAT idea! Reread that post.

Your gritty mix will help you avoid this issue too.

I would of used gypsum as Rhizzo explained, and not lime.

Here is a link for further info:

Here is a link that might be useful: Gradenia help

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:20PM
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Sam: I just realized that you are growing in the 5.1.1 mix!

I was thinking 1.1.1 for some reason. All principles are the same except one thing: You would use LIME and NOT gypsum in that mix. Use the gypsum in the gritty mix.



    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:27PM
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Turns out that this Gardenia was sickly to begin with, some mosiac like yellowing kept appearing all over the plant.

I was not pleased with it since day 1 when I received it, it was a pale green and it was deeply root bound in a tiny container of compacted peat.

I was not able to remove the compacted peat from the roots which looked like a black songe, but transferred it anyway, to the 511 mix.
I managed to take some of the peat off but the roots were so attached to the peat, that any clumps that were removed, tore the roots along with it. Plus, there wasn't a lot of root material to work with anyways.

It did put out new growth but I noticed it was getting yellow on random leaves, I sprayed for bugs and waited a little longer.

Taking no chances, I checked the root ball almost a month later from repotting, and as I suspected, there were no new roots growing out of the peat mass. I don't think its going to make it but I will see what happens.

The other 2 plants I ordered from Almost Eden are very healthy and putting out new growth, the gardenia on the other hand, was not as I hoped it would be. You can't always win!

I did manage to find an excellent gardenia at home depot the other day and I took it home! It is full of buds and looks so healthy and vibrant. I definitely went ahead and barerooted this one, it was much easier to do because the roots were in soil.

The process took about an hour and I potted it in some 511 mix and watered it and used a little bit of vinegar in the water. It seems to have fared the repotting ok, and I noticed that 2 more buds are turning white and hopefully I will be able to finally enjoy this amazing plant!!

I was not gentle with the plant and while I washed away the old soil from the roots, I was anticipating that some buds and leaves would fall off, but to my surprise, it has not lost one so far! (fingers-crossed!)

Some Pictures of my new gardenia:

Thanks for looking!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 1:23AM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

i love the look of your new gardenia.. now i have the urge to run to HD to check on their stocks. Lol.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 5:41PM
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Thanks, I loved it too when I first set eyes on it!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 10:22PM
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Wow! What a difference some water makes! I woke up today to a droopy plant and saggy buds and was frightened that I may have a dying plant on hand. It turned out that it was thirsty, I watered it 2 days ago and didn't think it would need more water so soon.

I realized that since it was recently transplanted, it needs more water so that the roots will establish themselves. Now the whole plant has perked up nicely and the leaves feel normal as opposed to feeling soft.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:25AM
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So far the new gardenia has survived and is producing new growth and buds. It is doing fine, although it lost quite a few bottom leaves, which was either from overwatering or transplant shock. They were yellow before they dropped.

It hasn't shed any more leaves lately, so that's a good sign.

I threw out my first gardenia which I ordered online because it never picked up and seemed very sick. I didn't want to deal with it since I had a new one which is healthy.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:08AM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Nice! Post some pictures when it blooms.
My Frostproof gardenia is finally done with its winter nap, it's growing again and i see some buds forming too.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 3:35AM
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Sure, I will post pics as soon as it starts blooming.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:57AM
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campbellms(North MS 7b)

I wish I had seen this before I killed 1.5 gardenias (1 dead, 1 on the way)

Once they enter the death spiral, is there any hope for recovery?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 8:02PM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Give it a chance. If it doesn't recover, there's always the replacement option ;)
You can also take some small cuttings and root those; gardenia cutting roots easily, it takes about 1 month.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 8:40PM
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Hey Cambellms,

You should read the post on this link and consider using one of the 2 soil-less mixes to transplant your gardenia into.

If the gardenia you have is still alive then try to repot it and wait and see.

This post explains the need of container plants and will help you save your plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 12:43AM
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campbellms(North MS 7b)


    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 6:03AM
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